Cilla Black

Cilla Black is once again to star in “Cinderella” at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre playing the role of  Fairy Godmother in her forty-seventh year in “the business”.

 

Cilla has had a long career in Pantoland, and was responsible for the return of the female Principal Boy to Panto after her performance in “Aladdin” at The London Palladium. Up until that time the trend had been turning to employing Male Principal Boys around the country, but when she donned the tights and tunic at Britain’s premier pantomime venue, there was a brief return to the “Tradition” role of girl as boy for several years.

 

Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White in Liverpool, in 1943 Cilla became the first female vocalist to be signed up by Brian Epstein, manager of Liverpool’s famous sons, The Beatles. Legend has it that John Lennon introduced Cilla to Epstein, who in 1963 signed her to his management and a contract with Parlophone Records, a subsidiary of EMI.

 

In Forty Five years of show business Cilla has released over fifteen albums, two greatest hits compilations and a staggering thirty-seven singles in 1963 she recorded the Lennon and McCartney song “Love of The Loved”, and in 1964 “Anyone Who Had A Heart” was released in the UK, followed by “You’re My World”. These hits were followed by “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”, “Alfie”, “Step Inside Love” and  “Something Tells Me”, among the many number one hit songs.

 

 

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Between May and September 1964 Cilla Black gave over four hundred performances on stage at the London Palladium, and appeared in the year’s Royal Variety Show- The first of many to follow.

 

Pantomime:

In the late ‘Fifties and ‘Sixties managements frequently placed their pop stars into pantomimes, as a means of promoting their artistes. Cilla appeared in her first pantomime “Little Red Riding Hood” at The Wimbledon Theatre in 1965. At the same time fellow pop stars Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas were starting “Mother Goose” in Stockton, and Gerry and The Pacemakers opened in “Cinderella” At Southampton.

 

 

In fact this was her second time in this pantomime, as she first appeared in “Red Riding Hood” in a school production, aged nine!

 

The pantomime starred Cilla in the title role, along with Jon Pertwee, (The Wolf) Jack Haig, (Dame), Tony Hughes (Simple Simon), Desmond and Marks, Eric Flynn and Sian Hopkins. It was presented by Audrey Lupton and Arthur Lane. Cilla’s costumes were provided by Barbara Hulannicki of the Biba Boutique that had newly opened in London.

 

In her programme biography she states her “Hates” to be: “people who slurp tea,: necking, petting or nattering in cinemas, boys with baggy trousers: waiting in queues”

Her ambition: To star in a stage musical. In fact she had less than a year to wait for that one!

 

In 1966 She opened in her own West End Show “Way Out In Piccadilly” alongside Frankie Howerd at The Prince Of Wales Theatre.

 

By 1968 her television series for the BBC “Cilla!” was being watched by over 22 million viewers each week.. The Variety series continued into 1975, when she made series of “Cilla’s World Of Comedy” for ITV.

 

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Cilla starred in the record breaking pantomime “Aladdin” at the London Palladium 1970-71. Appearing with her was Lesley Crowther (Wishee Washee) Terry Scott (Widow Twankey) and Alfred Marks (Abanazar).

 

From the 1970 Palladium Programme

 

At the end of that year (1971) Cilla rejoined Alfred Marks to appear in the BBC Television Pantomime “Aladdin” along with Roy Castle and Norman Vaughan. The Panto was broadcast on Christmas Day.

 

In 1976 she starred in “Cilla At The Palace” in London’s West End.

 

In 1978 she starred at the Liverpool Empire in “Dick Whittington”, appearing with Cannon & Ball, Frankie Desmond, George Roper and the Smurfs!

 

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1979 saw Cilla in “Aladdin” with Don Maclean and Frankie Desmond at the Wimbledon Theatre.

 

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1983 saw Cilla return to pantomime as Jack in “Jack and The Beanstalk” at the Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham, with Harry Worth and Wyn Calvin.

Cilla’s unlikely song  in this production was Boy George’s “Kama Chameleon”, in the charts at this point in time!

 

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1984 saw the start of Cilla’s hit show “Surprise! Surprise!” which ran until 2002

That year Cilla starred in “Dick Whittington” at the Apollo Theatre, Oxford. This panto also featured Jimmy Cricket, Billy Dainty and Ben Warriss.

 

1985 saw the debut of Cilla’s “Blind Date”, which she hosted for eighteen years until 2003.

 

In 1986 she appeared as “Aladdin” at the Empire Theatre Liverpool with Bob Carolgees and Gareth Hunt.

 

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Cilla appeared in “Aladdin” again in 1989 for Paul Elliott at the Wimbledon Theatre, opening on December 22nd and running until 28th January 1990. The pantomime also starred Gareth Hunt, Bob Carolgees and Gordon Honeycombe, along with David Morton and Katy Budd.

Amongst the juveniles supplied by The Babette Palmer Young Set in that pantomime were Babette’s two grand-daughters (and of course Bonnie Langford’s nieces) Summer and Scarlet Strallen, now both west End leading ladies.

 

Cilla as Aladdin

 

In 1991 Cilla Black starred in London’s Piccadilly Theatre as Jack in “Jack And The Beanstalk”, again appearing with her “Surprise! Surprise! “ guest Bob Carolgees and “Spit” The Dog, and Jean Boht.

 

In 1996 Cilla Black was awarded The Order Of The British Empire.

 

In 2007  Cilla’s fellow Liverpool star, Paul O’Grady asked her to play Fairy Godmother in his television Panto, ”Cinderella”, which was aired on the 19th December. Joan Collins played the evil Baroness, Jo Brand and Paul O’Grady were the Ugly Sisters, Jamelia appeared as Cinderella and Cilla’s mate Chris Biggins appeared  as Buttons.

Paul O'Grady Show - Cinderella - Cilla and Joan Collins

Copyright - REX

 

in 2008 Cilla returned to the Empire Theatre Liverpool to star as Fairy Godmother alongside Liverpool’s Jennifer Ellison and Les Dennis.

 

Link to Daily Mail Launch Pictures - Liverpool Empire 2008

 

in 2010 Cilla will be appearing at the new Aylesbury Waterside Theatre - once again starring as Fairy Godmother, but only from the 10th - 22nd December.

This page was last updated 12th August 2010

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